cover image My Name Is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeanette Winter

My Name Is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeanette Winter

Jeanette Winter. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201649-4

Winter (illustrator of Diego) takes command of the picture book format to distill the essence of artist Georgia O'Keeffe. In prose as vivid as an O'Keeffe painting, Winter traces the life of this extraordinary woman who dedicated herself from childhood to her craft. The author captures readers' attention from the start by showing the creative seeds planted early on, as young Georgia rides by horse and cart from her Wisconsin farm to town every Saturday ""to copy pictures from the stack in the art teachers' cupboard."" Winter's poetic text carries readers effortlessly through the painter's years at art school in Chicago and New York (""I walked down in the canyons of steel"") to her final home in New Mexico, where her subjects were the bleached bones, vast sky and red desert hills. Winter's compelling portrait depicts an artist whose laser-like focus allowed her to share her unique vision of something as expansive as the sky or as particular as a flower (""I painted it BIG, so people would notice""). Enhanced with selected quotes from O'Keeffe herself, this outstanding biography is easily one of Winter's best efforts to date. Visually, she pays homage to the artist with enough details to suggest the famous flower, skull and sky paintings, but wisely adheres to her own signature style to convey O'Keeffe and her environs. Winter's strength of line and saturated colors are a luscious blend of folk art simplicity and her singular palette--skyscrapers of purple and plum; black clouds against a baby blue moon; desert hills of salmon pink outlined against lavender skies. A superb and inspiring introduction for children to an exceptional American artist. Ages 6-10. (Oct.)